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  S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine - Northern Norway



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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

 Northern Norway

By order of Hitler the advance on Murmansk started on 22.06.1941 but faltered in the mean time had been stopped and reduced to the defence of the nickel mines at Petsamo/Finnland. At the same time the Kriegsmarine had to interrupt Allied shipping in the Arctic Sea and to ensure the German shipping.  For that purpose also the deployment of S-boats had been requested.

The OKM ordered on 19.10.1941 formation of the 8. SFltl (Kptlt. Stuhr-Christiansen) with the boats "S 42" (Oblt.z.S. Seeger), "S 44" (Oblt.z.S. Merkel), "S 45" (Oblt.z.S. Babbel), "S 46" (Oblt.z.S. Priebe) and the tender "Adolf Lüderitz" and the transit into the Arctic Sea. At the same time the steamer "Larsen" was set in march to Tromsø, to be rebuilt into a workshop-ship. The steamer "Hernøsand" was converted into a torpedo-control-engineering ship and torpedo-stock. Tender "Tanga" was sent to Kirkenes as command-ship. She carried torpedoes, depth charges and other material. Due to bad weather the boats did not arrive at Bergen before 26.11.1941. From there they were towed through the fjords to go easy on the engines. On 04.12.1941 they arrived at Tromsø.

The first deployment was on 28.12.1941 against a British unit, operating against Vestfjord, went into the emptiness. On the march back "S 45" had bottomcontact and had to go into dock at Harstad. 

On 28.12.1941 collided "S 42" and "S 44", so that "S 44" had to be reported aKB (außer Kriegsbereitschaft - not ready for action). With that the flotilla existed of only two boats.

The planned march of the 8. SFltl to Kirkenes could only start on the 03.01.1942 due to bad weather. Bad weather also further delayed the transit; on 06.01.1942 the boats arrived at Vardø, on 12.01.1942 Madsø. Planned advances were prevented or had to be broken off premature. At temperatures of - 6 bis - 8o and strong seastate the weapon fell out due to icing. Commandstand crews and boats had to suffer much under icing.

Only on 27.01.1942 the flotilla transitted to Kirkenes, where they also were kept in harbour by the weather. 

Boats alongside Tender near Kirkenes - Picure: Archives Erling Skjold

S-Boat of 6. SFltl and DS "Leuna" near Kirkenes - Picture: Archives: Erling Skjold

On 15.02.1942 it was ordered by SKL, to detail the 6. SFltl with eight boats and tender "Tsingtau" for the deployment in the area Lofots - Narwik. On 27.04.1942 the 6. SFltl (Kptlt. Obermaier) with four boats arrived at the new base Svolvær. In May the flotilla was filled up to eight boats - "S 69", "S 71", "S 73", "S 74", "S 75", "S 76", "S 113", "S 114". 

During a check-out trip together with "S 69" "S 113" had a grounding on 18.05.1942 off Måløy-Skarholmen at the entrance of Leinesfjorden and had to be reported aKB. She was towed to Svolvær by "S 69" and from there to Boø and finally to the shipyard at Trontheim by fishery vessels where she stayed until middle of july for repairs.

"S 113'" at Trontheim Mekaniske Verksted June 1942 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

Boat of the 6. SFltl in Northern Norway 1942 - Pictuer: Archives A. Hullmann

On 20.03.1942 S 42, S 44 and S 46 of the 8. SFltl together with four Submarine-Chasers covered the laying of the flanking minebarrier "Bantos A" by the minelayers "Cobra" and "Brummer" off Northern Norway.

The weather prevented in April, May, and June all deployments of the 6. and 8. SFltl. The boats had to stay in harbour to no avail, while at the western front  only seven boats were reported KB (ready for action).

Early Juli the flotillas were sat in alarm readiness a number of times, which then was cancelled every time. Once the 6. SFltl was deployed as anti-submarine screen for the Heavy Cruiser "Lützow" (ex "Deutschland") which was at that time deployed to "Kampfgruppe II" under VAdm. Kummetz in the Narwik-area.

The 6. SFltl as Anti-Submarine Screen in Northern Norway 1942 - Picture: Archives A. Hullmann

Heavy Cruiser "Lützow" in Northern Norway 1942 - Billede: Archives A. Hullmann

The 6. SFltl sailed with four boats and Tender "Tsingtau" into Semskefjord, where it arrived on 23.06.1942, while boats "S 69", "S 79" and "S 113" remained in the Westfjord as Group "Narwik". 

Exchange of Flotillas in Semskefjord - Picture: Archives Freundeskreis Schnellboote und Korvetten

 On 08.07.1942 was the 8. SFltl with (exchanged) tender "Tsingtau" ordered to Kiel, where it was dissolved on 12.07.1942. The boats came into shipyardoverhaul for six weeks and got a 40-mm-Flak. Thereafter they were divided up into other flotillas.

Two boats of the 6. SFltl in Skjomen (Ofotfjord near Narwik) alongside "Christian Radich", in the foreground MT-"Kärnten" with U 408 and U 457 the 16.07.1942 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

On 26.07.1942 was also the 6. SFltl - ineffective for the northern war zone Arctic Sea - called back from Norway. On 16.08.1942 five boats were laying in the shipyard at Rotterdam, "S 76" was aKB at Kiel and "S 69" and "S 113" were on march back to Germany. All boats got a stay at the shipyard for several weeks and transited then again to the Channel.

On 01.12.1942 was the 8. SFltl formed again. Commander became Kptlt. Zymalkowski. He got assigned the boats "S 44" (Lt.z.S. Quistorp), "S 64" (Kptlt. Wilcke), "S 66" (Lt.z.S. Schuur), "S 69" (Oblt.z.S. Ritter von Georg), "S 108" (Lt.z.S. Osterloh), and "S 118" (OFhnr.z.S. Fanger) as well as "Carl Peters" and as torpedo-control-engineering ship and torpedo stock steamship "Hernøsand".

Delayed by bad weather the flotilla left harbour on 16. and 17.12.1942, but were then blewn in at Stavanger. On 19.01.1943 four boats arrived the harbour of Bodø, the other four were still laying in Trondheim. 

Signalman at signalduty - Picture: Archives Freundeskreis Schnellboote und Korvetten

To cover German shipping along the Northnorwegian coast had the old boats of the fast Subchacer-Group ("S 11", "S 13", "S 15" und "S 16") transited from Bergen to Trondheim. Now they sailed back to Bergen. 

"S 13", "S 15" and "M 2" at Bergen 1943 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

After at all boats were assembled in Bodø, the  8. SFltl started a training-phase. 


8. SFltl en route in northern Norway - Picture: Archives Atle Wilmar

Official note on rear of picture above


Thereafter it was in readiness until it was ordered back to Germany end of May, were it arrived on 18.06.1943. In the due shipyard-phase at Kiel took a bomb attack by the Royal Airforce (RAF) place on 27.08.1943, which the boats "S 44" and "S 66" fell to victim. From the 6. SFltl fell by the same attack "S 135" and "S 137" (total loss) out. 

After the end of the shipyard-phasestarted the transit to the operation area with the boats "S 68", "S 69" und "S 127" on 10.09.1943.